Commissioner arrested for shoplifting

By Kathy Jefcoats

Henry County District 5 Commissioner Arthur Lee Holman bailed out of the county jail on $550 bond after being arrested Tuesday afternoon for shoplifting at a Stockbridge Wal-Mart.

Holman is expected to attend a pretrial hearing this morning in Henry County Magistrate Court on the misdemeanor charge.

Henry County Jail officials allowed Holman to be released through the back of the facility, away from public view. He was driven away by Commission Chairman Leland Maddox, who arrived at the jail with his daughter to post bond.

Holman bypassed waiting reporters but later released a statement faxed from the Crumbley and Crumbley Law Firm.

"Without intending to do so, I did something to raise the suspicions of store security," the statement reads. "I presented all my merchandise to the cashier. Apparently not all items rang up. I presented my receipt and all the items in my possession for inspection at the exit to the store before security personnel even approached me. At no time did I intend to take any item without paying."

The items included a bottle of peroxide and a bottle of lighter fluid valued at $7.06.

Maddox talked about the arrest before Holman's release.

"It's a mistake," he said. "This is not the action of the man I have known all these years."

Holman's explanation to Maddox is that the arrest is a mistake that can easily be cleared up.

"You can take this however you want but he told me that he had gone through the line, paid for some items and was leaving," he said. "There was an item in his bag that didn't match his receipt and they arrested him."

Henry County Police arrested Holman at the store at 1 p.m., said Lt. Joe Tammaro. He referred all other questions to county administration officials.

A representative with the Association County Commissioners of Georgia said the commission can investigate the charges and decide to place Holman on paid or unpaid administrative leave while awaiting his day in court. Or the board can wait for the legal outcome of the case. If he is convicted, Holman can be removed from office.

Under Georgia law, Code Section 16-10-1, any public officer who willfully and intentionally violates the terms of his oath as prescribed by law shall, upon conviction thereof, be punished by imprisonment for not less than one nor more than five years.

A call to county attorney Patrick Jaugstetter was not immediately returned Tuesday.

Holman was sworn into office Jan. 3, 2003, to begin his first term as a county commissioner. His wife, Peggy, was diagnosed with cancer days later and died in April. The board appointed him vice-chairman at its regular meeting Jan. 6.